Sunday, August 29, 2021

That’ll Be $5.50 Please

When you do the same activity over and over, it’s always interesting when a new detail appears in all the sameness. I've gone to a gazillion sales over the years, and in the time I've been blogging, some standout moments were the day I bought and sold King Kong, the time young Maggie danced for me, the Saturday morning I brought home an eight foot long sofa in a Honda Civic. Or this past Friday, when Lysa and I encountered the first campfire-in-a-garage I've ever seen. 

Which, while charming (as flickering flames generally are) struck careful old me as possibly a bit rash – with the bowl standing on a wooden stool, and - before I gently commented on it - a box full of various aerosol cans and a roll of paper towels right beside.

A couple of weeks ago, I went to three sales and when I got home and totted up my buys, I realized I had spent the same amount at each sale: $5.50. I'm pretty sure that has never happened before. My friend Marcia’s reaction to this news was an incredulous, “You spent $16.50  in one weekend?” (She’s known me a long time!) Well, yes, but I got some good stuff!

One sale netted 5 movies – 3 Blu-ray and 2 DVDs. (Have you ever seen G-Force? Superhero guinea pigs…hilarious.) 

Another had something I was just about to resort to buying new: a wheelbarrow to replace the one I've about worn out. 

The fifty cents went for a white long-sleeve t-shirt (I know you can provide your own image!), always a useful item.

And the third sale provided a pair of minty green crop pants, 

another t-shirt, 

a festive boiled wool vest, 

and three pairs of adorably cute shoes.

I was going to be semi sensible and only get the red and blue shoes (two bucks a pair) but then the nice lady threw in the black ones for free. How could I say no?

Segue to this weekend. I didn’t buy a lot, but I was amused to realize when I got home that I had spent…that’s right, $5.50. The fifty cents this time went for a lovely plate that I suspect is pretty old. 

And the $5 went for a treasure.

I've been watching for linen tablecloths, because I have a yen to try out linen sheets and I figure I can easily repurpose tablecloths. (Actual linen sheets are hideously expensive.) I was planning to sew two or three together with flat overlapped seams, but it's been ages since I've found even smaller ones for a decent price. Or at all.  I'd started to wonder if I've already bought every piece of linen in Salem.

Lysa and I had almost finished perusing a sale with a lot of vintage ‘collectibles’ when I walked by a couple of young women pulling things out of a box and exclaiming over them. When I realized it was vintage textiles they were looking at, I moved closer. We all admired the lace curtain panels, and the long dresser scarf of tatted lace. None of them had ever heard of tatting (sheesh, I am getting old!) so I explained about the tatting shuttle and fine thread and how when your grandma tries to teach you to tat you get all tangled up in that thread and cut off the circulation to all your fingers. (Maybe that’s just me.) Then one of them picked up something white in a plastic case, glanced at it, said, “Oh, Irish linen,” and put it back in the box.

My trembling hand reached out for it, trying not to appear too eager. A new-in-package Irish linen tablecloth, a big one, and when I asked, the price was five bucks. Mine, mine, mine! 

This has to be one of the best things I'll find this summer. Besides the price and the fact that it's 100% linen, it's the largest size the company made for the consumer market, 144 x 72 inches. Actually bigger than a king size sheet (though not quite as wide). When I looked up the company name of the maker, I found it has a long and interesting history behind it. The William Ewart linen company started in 1814, and the William Liddell company in 1866; the two companies merged in 1973. Their linens were sold all over the world, I think mainly to hotels and other commercial venues. The Liddell factory provided the linens for the Titanic! Liddell still exists, but it appears that now they weave cotton, not linen, and focus on the luxury hotel market (not my usual home away from home!).

So my tablecloth was made sometime since 1973, and given the feel and appearance of its plastic wrapper, I'm guessing mid-70s to early 80s. I haven’t yet taken my treasure out of the plastic cocoon. Feels like it should be done ceremonially, and I'm working out the proper rites for its emergence into light and air.

I looked on eBay to see if it has any resale value, and it sure does. A similar one (same packaging etc.), also unused but smaller, recently sold for almost $120. Others are listed but unsold yet at closer to $200, and none are as big as mine. But I'm going to stick to my sheet plan. I will really enjoy knowing I'm sleeping on a $200 sheet. It will make me feel like I'm staying at one of those luxury hotels!



  1. Great idea for linen. What a score.

    1. I have another tablecloth I've repurposed for a bath towel. Looooove linen!

  2. I, too, have been wanting to try linen sheets. Please keep us posted on results.

    1. Will do! I'm not sure I'll ever be able to cut the piece, but figure I can try it out by just good tucking.

  3. I have been wanting linen sheets, but the price is too high. Good deal!

  4. Great idea! Don't you love how a wonderful piece of linen in your hand can turn a chore to a pleasure?


I really love your comments. Thanks for coming along on my thrifty adventures!

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